Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds will host the West Division leading Windsor Spitfires Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center (cap. 4,400) in Flint.
Saturday marks the fourth of six meetings between the two clubs, and the second of three in Flint this season. All-time, the Firebirds hold a record of 9-17-1-0 versus the Spitfires, and a record of 3-10-1-0 at the Dort Federal Event Center. Last season the ‘Birds went 4-2-0-0 in the series, winning two of three games at home.
The Firebirds enter Saturday’s contest in third place in the West Division with a record of 21-16-1-0. The Spits are currently tied for the lead in the West with a 24-9-4-0 record. On home ice this year, the ‘Birds are 13-8-1-0 compared to Windsor’s road record of 11-6-1-0. In their past 10 games, Flint has gone 4-5-1-0 and the Spitfires are 8-2-0-0.
Windsor had the upper hand in all three prior meetings this season. Flint has skated to 7 – 5 and 5 – 2 defeats on the road and a 5 – 2 defeat at home thus far. In the three games this campaign, Evgeniy Oksentyuk (1G, 7A) and Riley McCourt (6A) have led the Firebirds’ offensive charge. Egor Afanasyev (Nashville Predators) has eight points (4G, 4A) and Tyler Angle (Columbus Blue Jackets) has six (2G, 4A) to lead Windsor on the scoresheet in the series.
On special teams this season Flint’s penalty-kill ranks third in the league, finding success at a rate of 81.4%. The ‘Birds have the league’s number-one penalty-kill on home ice, shutting the opposition down 87.5 % of the time. Windsor’s penalty-killers are ranked 16th at 76.6%. With the man-advantage, the ‘Spits rank second in the league, converting at a rate of 27.8% and the Firebirds are 20th, scoring at a 17.2% clip.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (21-16-1-0, 3rd West Division):
Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) rejoined the club last night after winning a gold medal with Team Canada at the IIHF World U20 Championship (World Juniors) in the Czech Republic. Prior to leaving Flint to join team Canada, Dellandrea scored an impressive six goals and five assists in his final three contests. He added two assists last night and carries a four-game point-streak (6G, 7A) in OHL play. For the season, he ranks third for Flint with 17 goals and 22 helpers in 28 games.
Belarusian forward Evgeniy Oksentyuk tops the club with 19 goals and 27 assists for 46 points in 33 contests. He extended his current point-streak to 15 games with two assists last night, officially making his the longest point-streak (11G, 16A) in Firebirds’ franchise history. Oksentyuk now has 14 multi-point games this season.
Defenseman Riley McCourt recently surpassed former Firebird Matt Henderson for most goals scored by a defenseman in a Firebirds’ uniform with 21 pots in the orange and navy blue. McCourt’s 87 total points with Flint are just three shy of tying the record for all-time points by a Firebirds’ rearguard. For this season, McCourt is second in total offense with 11 goals and a team-high 30 assists for 41 total points in 38 games. His total points are fourth-most among OHL rearguards, his 11 tallies are tied for sixth, and his 30 helpers are tied for fourth. McCourt also has also scored the first goal of the game three times this season, the most by any defenseman.
Behind McCourt is a trio of defenders with NHL ties. The newest addition to the blue-line troops is Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues). Tucker has eight goals and 22 assists through 30 games-played. Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) has 21 total points (9G, 12A) and Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) has 18 points (5G, 13A). Kolyachonok is tied for tenth in goals-scored among defenders.
Brennan Othmann leads the freshman class for the ‘Birds with 20 total points (8G, 12A) through 30 games. His point total is tied for eighth among rookies in the league, his eight goals and his 12 helpers are both tied for seventh.
Between the pipes, Anthony Popovich has played in 28 games this season. He’s earned 15 victories, which are tied for the fourth-most in OHL. His goals-against average (GAA) is 3.80 and he has the ninth-best save-percentage (SAV%) in the league at .897. Luke Cavallin has six wins in 13 appearances, and he carries a 3.83 GAA with a .896 SAV%.
NHL: The Firebirds have five players with NHL ties consisting of Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) and Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues).
Despite Flint being in the midst of just their fifth OHL season, three former Firebirds have already played in NHL regular-season games: Nick Caamano (Dallas Stars), Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) and Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets). Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vili Saarijarvi (Arizona Coyotes) and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) have played in NHL pre-season contests. In total, the team has produced an impressive 18 drafted or signed NHL players in that short time.
Windsor Spitfires (24-9-4-0, T-1st West Division):
Egor Afanasyev (Nashville Predators) leads the Spitfires with 27 assists and has 44 points in 37 games. Afanasyev rides a 12-game point streak (9G, 10A) into Saturday’s tilt. Fourth-year forward Tyler Angle (Columbus Blue Jackets) leads the Spitfires with 20 tallies, and he has 23 helpers through 37 games-played to sit second in total points. Daniel D’Amico ranks thirds on the club with 34 total points (16G, 18A) in 36 contests.
Defenseman Connor Corcoran (Vegas Golden Knights) is tied for fourth on the club and leads the blue-line unit with 12 tallies and 21 helpers in 37 games. His 33 points are eighth-most among OHL defensemen and his 12 goals are tied for third.
First-year defenseman Ruben Rafkin has one goal and 18 assists to top the Spit’s rookie class with 19 points through 35 contests. His total assists are the second-most among first-year players in the league and his 19 points are tied for tenth.
Between the pipes, Kari Piiroinen has appeared in 18 games between the pipes this season, earning 12 victories with a 3.40 goals-against average (GAA) and a .882 save-percentage (SAV%). Rookie netminder Xavier Medina has appeared in 20 contests. He also has 12 wins and a 3.52 GAA and a .879 SAV%.
NHL: Windsor’s roster features four players with NHL ties, consisting of defenseman Connor Corcoran (Vegas Golden Knights) and forwards Tyler Angle (Columbus Blue Jackets), Egor Asanasyev (Nashville Predators) and Curtis Douglas (Dallas Stars). Additionally, Will Cuylle, Jean-Luc Foudy, Kyle McDonald, Ruben Rafkin and Dylan Robinson were all listed on the 2019 NHL Central Scouring November ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.
Notable Windsor alumni to play in the NHL include Ed Jovanovski, Matt Cooke, Cory Stillman, Jason Spezza, Steve Ott, Jason York, Josh Bailey, Tim Gleason, Mike Rupp, Cam Fowler, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Wellwood, Todd Warriner, Steve Downie, Jamie Allison, Ryan Ellis and current Firebirds’ head coach Eric Wellwood.
Saturday’s contest can be heard live on the radio throughout Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM, online at www.us103.com or by downloading the US 103 app here. Firebirds’ broadcaster Dominic Hennig will call the play-by-play action and Jack Sznewajs will provide color commentary on the Firebirds Hockey Network (FHN). Pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m. New this season, fans can watch the FHN TV Pregame Show live on Facebook and Twitter, also beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday’s game will also be televised live in Windsor on YourTV channel 11 / 700 (HD) for Cogeco TV cable subscribers. Additionally, the game will be televised live throughout the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 467 for both Cogeco TV and Rogers TV cable subscribers. OHL fans with cable television in Ontario can add the OHL Action Pak to their television plan to catch the Firebirds in action, home or away all season long. Along with Sunday’s game, 65 of the Firebirds’ 68 games throughout the 2019-20 season are also scheduled to be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak.
All Flint Firebirds home and away games throughout the 2019-20 season can be watched anywhere in the world online on www.ohllive.com or on the OHL Live app. OHL Live is a league video streaming platform that delivers high quality live and on-demand coverage of all regular season and playoff games annually. The cost is $6.99 per game, $69.99 for Flint Firebirds away games only, $179.99 for all 68 home and away Firebirds games and $279.99 for all 1,360 OHL games throughout the 2019-20 season.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club